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Jerks Don’t Work Anymore

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I was recently hired to coach a Chief Technology Officer because he was “struggling to adopt a contemporary leadership style.”  Oh boy. 



I know what that means.


When we met, he told me a story that is not uncommon in today’s business world.  He used to lead a team of 75 people with 10 direct reports, but now he had more accountability and fewer people.  His company flattened the organization, distributed resources, and cut costs until he was left with only 49 people in 5 countries and 4 direct reports. And yes, he was struggling.  He needed to drive a big technology change across the organization, but people weren’t changing fast enough.  So he was yelling and throwing temper tantrums to get the attention of his highly distracted business.  You can imagine how well THAT was working out.  But the company didn't want to lose him.  He was talented and had a vision.  He just needed a different approach.  

Shaking his head, he said “I have lost control of my team.” Of course he did.  Because control should not have been the goal.  He needed to lead with PERSONAL POWER, not just POSITIONAL POWER.  And there is a big difference in skill sets.

As part of our coaching, I asked him to complete an Emotional Intelligence 360 assessment (we use the EQ-i 2.0® online tool).  His boss, a handful of peers, and 8 people in his direct organization provided him feedback.  Now we were looking at a report that showed us their feedback compared to his self-assessment.

And there were some notable gaps.  Yikes.

Everyone agreed that his strengths were Self-Regard, Stress Tolerance, Problem Solving, and Assertiveness.  He was a confident clear thinker who was able to handle the pressure of his job.  But his ability to execute wasn’t why they hired me to coach him.  He had management and delivery down pat. 

He lacked connection skills.  His raters scored him in the Bottom 25% in both Empathy and Interpersonal Relationships.  He embodied the “command and control” leadership style and believed he was the smartest person in every room.  People said he had a tendency to demonstrate his expertise too early in a conversation and shut others down.  Confidence overdone becomes arrogance and it seemed he had a bad case of it.  His lack of Empathy caused him to speak with too many exclamation points and not enough question marks.  Basically, no one liked to work with him.  He was competent but not connected.  He had lost trust and credibility because of his impulsive and offensive behavior.  It was time to change a few things about himself or he couldn’t change the company.

He took the feedback hard.  He worried it was too late in his career to change his style.  I told him to practice a Growth Mindset and believe that he wasn’t done learning to be a leader yet.  If he could balance his high IQ with some more EQ he would be even more successful.  And to his credit, he put the feedback into practice and really started turning things around in his organization.  AND he is happier and having more fun at work.

Does this sound familiar to you?  Do you know leaders like him?  Leaders who are still trying to be the boss despite a modern workforce that demands otherwise?    

When org charts looked like Christmas trees, with a clear star at the top and boxes lined up neatly underneath them, leaders HAD TO BE the smartest people in the room because everyone looked UP for direction.  Today’s organizations look a lot more like spider webs and are highly inter-dependent.  Today’s best leaders have learned to lead “alongside” their people and guide them using influence and insights.  

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In many ways, emotional intelligence is not a NEW requirement for leaders.  Great leaders have always been emotionally intelligent.  But the demand for transformational leadership vs. effective management is increasing. Managers excel at driving productivity, consistency, and efficiency.  There are a lot of great managers out there because Six Sigma and other rigorous management practices were driven into us in the 90’s and early 2000’s.  But in a rapidly changing world we need LEADERS who inspire change and cultivate broad organic followership.  These leaders need more than a high IQ.  They need the EQ advantage.  It has been proven again and again that while IQ got you hired, EQ will get you promoted right now. 

Here’s the good news.   EQ isn’t a fixed capability.    We have all met people who seem to just be “born with it.”  They are self-aware, intentional, and engaging people.  I happen to believe that most of us were born more emotionally intelligent than we grew up to be.  Social conditioning and archaic workplaces taught us to shut-down our feelings, warned us to not be friends with our co-workers, and encouraged us to desire control instead of connection.  So if we learned to not use it, we can learn to use it again.  In many ways, I am helping leaders return to the emotionally intelligent person they were before Corporate America got a hold of them.

Do you have the EQ Advantage?  Do you want to find out?  As part of our new GAMECHANGER experience, The EQ Advantage, you will complete the EQ-i 2.0® 360 assessment process and receive a powerful feedback report.  You will than participate in a 1-Day LIVE learning experience with certified coaches to put your EQ into action and receive additional insights.  Finally, you will work one-on-one with your coach to create a GAMECHANGER Action Plan and improve this vital capability.  Register today as space is limited for these highly interactive experiences!

The EQ Advantage – January 16, 2018 Orlando

The EQ Advantage – March 22, 2018 Minneapolis

Candyce PenteadoComment